Have you heard that an Israeli-American billionaire is going to buy a fifty percent stake in Al Jazeera? Well, it’s probably not true.
The story is everywhere. It goes like this: Haim Saban, an Egyptian-born Israeli-American billionaire, who is the creator of Power Rangers and the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, is going to buy up to fifty percent of the Qatari news network.
Haaretz is covering it, as are other reputable Middle Eastern newspapers. The blogosphere is abuzz with talk about the potential purchase. But I encourage everyone to take a close look at the news stories about the deal.
What evidence do any of the stories offer? It was reported in the independent online Egyptian newspaper El-Masryoon. Anything else? No. No comments from Saban. No comments from Al Jazeera. No off-the-record comments from the supposed Egyptian intermediary. In fact, the story isn’t even being reported in any other local newspapers.
I hate to say it, but just because something is published in an Egyptian newspaper doesn’t make it true. A post on Mondoweiss said today, “Mondoweiss couldn’t make this up. What Zionist control of the media?” But actually, someone else could have made it up very easily and probably did.
I think it’s pretty unlikely that the Qataris would sell a huge portion of the most-watched news network in the Arab world to an Israeli. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. Saban’s ownership would seriously undermine Al Jazeera’s credibility with its viewers. Doha, of course, knows this.
So let’s just stop, take a deep breath, think this through, and try not to repeat rumors as fact.